BPM Straight Up - Separating Fact from Fiction

2017 is Shaping Up to be an Exciting Year

Dan Morris
Contributor: Dan Morris
Posted: 12/17/2016


I continually run into companies that are at both ends of the digital and business transformation spectrums.  Many are really just getting started and others are well along the business or digital transformation roads.  All of these companies have at least one thing in common – everyone is uncertain of the future and the investments that will be available as the pace of change picks up in 2017.

The fact is that 2017 will be a year of tremendous change. Technology is poised for even greater wonders than in the past with BPMS, digital mobility computing, low code/no code application generation, Decision Management Support, ever broadening cloud capabilities, IOT, virtually limitless data access and storage, and rapidly advancing analytics.  This is a long list of options. But most will pick some things from this list for 2017.

On the business side, added to this are the pending changes that will accompany the repeal of the ACA (Obama Care), changes that are coming in insurance plans and processes, and the changes that the simplification of federal and state regulations and reporting will bring.  Whether you agree with these changes or not, is really not the important issue.  Whatever changes they bring will need to be addressed and both the business operation and the IT applications will need to be modified. The result will be a year of fundamental change in both technology and business operations.

Are you ready for this change?

For some this will be a scary proposition.  For others, it will be an opportunity to challenge long held but now unnecessary beliefs and procedures.  For all, it will mean disruption and investment.

But how far will management take this opportunity to change?  It must be done and it will not be minor or simple.  Will your company add additional complexity by cobbling more change on top of the already complex operation and IT environment?  Will they rely on software vendors to shoulder the burden and then make the changes fit with work around activity?   Or, will they begin the evolution to modernized business and technical operations through business and digital transformation?  The choices are actually themselves complex and each will carry very different costs and outcomes.  However, regardless of the choice that is ultimately made, 2017 will be a year of learning, determining the best option for the company, and then building a business and investment case to sell that option to senior management.

For those who are aggressive in moving forward, 2017 will also be a year of getting the company “house” in order as business models are updated, expanded, and extended to unmodeled parts of the business.  For IT executives, this will be a year where they evaluate the infrastructure and application portfolio changes needed to support business transformation, and hopefully rearchitect the technology structure, standards, and approach to providing services.  This is the foundation for moving forward and taking the time to build it will be a significant factor in the success of the invasive changes that are coming.

Commitment and Investment

I firmly believe that business and IT are on the forefront of a major redesign in thinking that will recognize that today we are in the same place we were in 1960.  Back in the 60’s automation support was new and its use was just expanding.  Some things worked and some didn’t.  But management recognized the fact that the world was changing and they realized that they had to invest or let the company die a slow death.  

Today, we are again at a point where technology is driving a totally different business operating model.   This is the next big point in business, technology, and society evolution.  Technology is a main driver because it has reached every part of society and caused fundamental changes in the way people live and interact.  That in turn, is driving a need for businesses to adapt.  Of course, any adapting means a new commitment and investment in a new vision of the future.

With the changes in government mandate that are expected from the new US administration, the past reaction timeline will likely need to compress.  For those who have started down the transformation path, the pace will likely accelerate a little.  For others, there are serious decisions that will need to be made in 2017.  These decisions will affect these companies in profound ways and determine how they will move into the future and to a large degree, their potential to succeed and remain in business.

In her PEX paper “Emergence: the future of Operational Excellence” Diana Davis quotes Innosight Consulting Research – “The average lifespan of an S&P 500 firm is 18 years today down from 61 years in 1958. By 2027, new firms will replace 75 percent of the companies that were in the Index in 2011.”

While the reasons for delaying action will differ, among the more important situations is an inability to recognize the scope, level, and type of changes that will be needed to remain relevant and viable.  Given what is going on, it looks like this is the nexus of technology, society, and government mandated changes that will either increase operational complexity beyond many companies’ ability to operate effectively and efficiently, or cause a fundamental rethinking of the company and how it will operate in the future.

2017 will be a crucial year in making these decisions and starting this move.

To help beat the odds in Diana’s quote, I propose that this work and investment be viewed as more than just a reactive move.  This is an opportunity to begin something much bigger than cobbling in the changes needed to address an issue or comply with a regulation.  Because companies will need to make significant changes anyway, this nexus represents a chance to begin both an operational simplification and a controlled rethinking of the business operation and IT support.  This will avoid the continued complication of the business and IT as the company responds to both opportunity and government regulation. 


Everyone will agree that fundamental change, starting in 2017, will be unavoidable.  As part of this evolution, companies will need to look at technology advances and customer buying/interaction patterns to increase customer experience capabilities and determine how they will be affected by both the adoption of emerging technology and changes in federal regulation.  As I have said before in this column, the need to address these things is not optional.  The only choice is how each company will address them.

The options in dealing with these changes will take a lot of different forms.  But the challenge will be determining what will be the best option for the business – not just for IT and the work IT will need to do.  The most important questions, however, are related to the approach that is chosen.  Will the projects needed to adjust to the ACA and to regulation changes be approached as part of a strategic transformation or as a set of cobbled in quick, narrowly focused changes?  Both options have serious cost implications and competitive ramifications with one reflecting a long-term view and one reflecting a short-term view.

The decisions will be interesting, as will be the approach that is taken – since there is no one size fits all situations solutions.

Part of the excitement or maybe the anxiety is that no one knows exactly how the technology will change, how customers will really adopt new mobility technology that is just being released, or what will really change in the ACA or in federal regulations.  We just know that there will be changes and that we will need to react to them.  We also know that we have two major and basic choices.  These are to continue to cobble in focused changes or to think bigger and longer term and use this as an opportunity to begin the modernization and transformation of the business operation and IT strategies.  In either case, companies will need to eliminate all the baggage from the past 50 years since the last real operational transformation as they adjust to this new” era of technology”.

I would like to thank my readers for their continued support and wish you all a Happy Holiday Season.  As always I welcome comments, differences of opinion, or questions.  Please contact me a daniel.morris@wendan-consulting.com .

And, check out my new book, “The Business Transformation Field Guide” which is available through Amazon Books.  It provides Business Transformation teams with over 840 best practice “hints” on how to perform the many tasks in transformation projects and increase the probability of project success.

Dan Morris
Contributor: Dan Morris
Posted: 12/17/2016


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